Analysis Of A & P By John Updike

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Nowadays, the lives we live embody countless ethical characteristics that possibly would not have been culturally tolerable fifty years ago. John Updike’s short story, A & P, encounters these topics of cultural ideals through the point of view of a teenager. The teenager, Sammy, devotes countless hours working at the A & P, a local supermarket, spending his time people watching and visualization where his life will take him. Updike embeds symbolism and imagery into this short story; which, eventually evolves Sammy from a spectating, unaware teenager into an adult who must confront his new reality resulting from his decision to quit the A&P.
First published in 1961, this short story evokes controversy, and to this day, continues to be debated. According to critic Ronald E. McFarland, “one reason that anthologists have embraced the story is probably their awareness of audience. Sammy the 19-year-old check out boy, has natural appeal to a classroom full of 18- and 19-year-olds” (324). On first sight, readers may conclude Updike envisioned a humble and pleasant telling of a day in the life of a teenager; however, the inclusion of literary and cultural knowledge of the time period signals the reader to examine the story more intensely. For instance, the mere illustration of Sammy checking out a customer while holding a box of HiHo crackers when the girls enter the store is symbolic. As critic Ronald E. McFarland points out, the HiHo crackers “are a fitting symbol for him-an

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